For information on the current H1N1 influenza pandemic, including federal policies and guidance, please go to flu.gov
During the 2009 H1N1 human influenza pandemic, EPA is working hard to sustain our essential governmental services and to protect human health and the environment. Like all federal agencies, EPA has identified essential personnel to perform essential functions and services during a pandemic.
In a worst-case pandemic situation (i.e., if the current moderate pandemic becomes more severe), it is likely that only the most critical functions will continue to be performed by the Agency.
Assuming that up to 40% of EPA’s workforce will be either ill or caring for sick family members (based on federal planning modeling), day-to-day activities would be significantly curtailed. EPA would perform only essential functions involving:
Management and communication with Agency employees, contractors, assistance recipients, and other stakeholders;
Implementation of EPA’s continuity of operations plans;
Support for the federal response to a pandemic outbreak;
Response to hazardous material releases that endanger human health and the environment; and
Performance of the Agency’s national security functions.
EPA will provide information, as appropriate, to stakeholders identifying essential personnel and the best means for communicating with them. These employees may be people with whom you do not normally interact.
To support the federal response to an influenza pandemic, EPA will carry out its designated primary and support response roles as outlined in the National Response Framework. See EPA’s Homeland Security Web site for detailed information.
In addition, EPA serves as the lead for the water sector during any pandemic. The water sector is considered part of the nation's critical infrastructure. As the lead for drinking water and water treatment systems, EPA is responsible for:
Ensuring a better-secured and resilient water sector that provides continuity of operations and clean and safe water to the nation, and affirms economic vitality and public confidence;
Developing sector-specific pandemic guidance;
Providing input on pandemic vaccine and antiviral prioritization guidance for the water sector;
Working with stakeholders to assist development and promotion of mutual aid and assistance compacts; and
Supporting these and other efforts to assist drinking water and wastewater systems maintain operations.
EPA’s authority to register disinfectants also is very important during any pandemic. The registration program office evaluates product efficacy to make sure the public health label claims are accurate. Currently, over 500 disinfectant products are registered for use on hard, non-porous surfaces against influenza A viruses including the 2009 H1N1 Human Influenza. See “Antimicrobial Products Registered for Use Against the H1N1 Flu and Other Influenza A Viruses on Hard Surfaces.”
Please note that EPA’s other potential support roles depend on the specific nature of a virus causing a pandemic. Such roles do not apply in the current 2009 H1N1 Human Influenza pandemic but would apply, for example, if the influenza virus had more severe impact, e.g. such as with the H5N1 virus. If H5N1 virus starts being transmitted efficiently between humans, thereby constituting a pandemic, that pandemic would trigger other support roles of decontamination and disposal. See EPA’s Homeland Security Web site for more detailed information.
EPA employees should refer to flu.gov for information on individual and family preparedness, and for the latest employee guidance from the Office of Personnel Management and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Information specific to EPA personnel is posted at EPA’s intranet site .
If a severe pandemic occurs, EPA will adjust operations to protect employees’ health and limit the spread of influenza while maintaining essential functions. EPA management will use this internet Web site, as well as other means such as mass mailers and voice mail, to provide up-to-date information regarding work schedules and other workplace information.